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Controversy over new Tesco locum pharmacist rate caps

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Controversy over new Tesco locum pharmacist rate caps

Tesco Pharmacy appears to have set new “locum wage rates” for pharmacists, effective from July 18.

A document shared on social media that appears to be an internal Tesco memo says the company is “changing the pay rates for pharmacy locums to help stabilise increased costs for the business caused by industry-wide labour shortages”.

The new rates are divided into three bands A-C, with variation within each band depending on the hours a locum is asked to work. 

For example, Band A locums are to be paid £27.25 for working Monday to Friday before 7pm, and £31.25 for working after 7pm from Monday to Saturday, or on Sundays and bank holidays.

The memo also refers to a new “emergency rate” that is being introduced “to manage the risk of having to reduce opening hours”. 

This emergency rate is capped at £36 an hour, although the memo tells managers: “The best rate should be secured before offering the maximum (if needed).” This may be paid for a maximum of seven days in a row. 

“The emergency rate can only be used if the rates above are failing to attract any locums and the pharmacy has no other way of filling that shift e.g. pharmacist colleagues from your store/local stores doing overtime or shift swaps,” the memo states.

“Store managers should ensure compliance with the new rates from 18 July,” the memo says.

Pharmacist Regan English said on Twitter that she frequently is required to do lone working on locum shifts at Tesco pharmacies. She wrote: “They want me to do a dispenser, counter assistant and pharmacist role for these rates? I don’t think so.”

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association raised concerns that Tesco may temporarily close its pharmacies rather than pay rates above those set out in the memo, warning that this would constitute a breach of its NHS contract. 

The multiple did not respond to repeated requests for comment.  

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